Pflugerville ISD considers change to district of innovation, delays process until next meeting

During Pflugerville ISD's Thursday night board meeting, the public reacted to the school board's recent exploration into becoming a district of innovation, or DOI.

The DOI concept was created in 2015 by state legislators who sought to allow public school districts more freedom and flexibility as charter schools already had.

Districts that have adopted plans of innovation can exempt themselves from complying with parts of the Texas Education Code. More than 60 districts had taken advantage of DOIs as of January.

The most popular exemptions districts have taken on let them change the start date of schools, change the required certification level of teachers, adjust the maximum class size and change the minimum number of required minutes of instruction.

As the meeting started off, a number of speakers expressed concern over not seeing a concrete plan before voting to become a DOI.

"I think if this had been explained more, if they had held forums ... everyone I had talked to doesn't know what it is," Pflugerville resident Tammy Smith said. "I don't think you are really hearing from the community, because I don't think anyone in the community really knows what you are talking about."

Several educators also spoke, expressing hope that class sizes wouldn't grow and the DOI plan wouldn't become an excuse to cut budgets.

Following the meeting at the board's workshop session, interim Superintendent Gary Patterson said he thinks there was a miscommunication between the public and the board on how far along the school district was in the DOI process.

The board delayed naming a committee to explore what exemptions PfISD would take as a DOI because some trustees wanted to change the advisory committee member appointment process. Prior to the meeting, each campus submitted the names of the principal and a parent and trustees submitted additional names.

Trustee Carol Fletcher asked about self-nominations from the community, leading the board to postpone the committee naming process.

"We have the opportunity to work through this at a slow pace, discuss and have debate if needed," Patterson said. "The committee work will be open to the public."